Making GPRA 'part of the culture'

House Results Caucus

Even with the first mandatory performance reports behind them, agencies

and Congress have a long way to go before they will be able to truly link

mission performance information to their budgets, officials testified before

the House on Thursday.

Federal agencies submitted their first reports to the Office of Management

and Budget under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) last

year, starting a new phase in the governmentwide attempt to link agencies'

program performance to their missions and their funding.

Those reports have received varying levels of praise and condemnation

from people within government for their ability to establish that link and

to set goals based on performance outcomes rather than outputs. Now Congress

is trying to determine what steps are needed to improve the next round of

reports and the overall process so that GPRA is used to improve government's

effectiveness.

"I have not seen the agencies using the [GPRA] as a helpful management

tool," said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Results

Caucus, testifying before the House Government Reform Committee's Government

Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee. "The performance plans

that agencies produce are often still too broad."

Agencies' biggest challenge is making the link between performance measurements

and program missions and then feeding that information back into the program

formation process, said Joshua Gotbaum, executive associate director, controller

and acting deputy director for management at OMB.

"The outcome that we are trying to get is in agencies using the [performance]

outcome information in how they manage their programs," he said.

Congress also has something to learn before GPRA will be a complete

success, said Rep. Jim Turner (R-Texas), ranking member on the House subcommittee.

"The success of GPRA will lie not only on the agency managers. It's going

to rely on the ability of Congress to take its part," he said.

GPRA must become "part of the culture of Congress," Turner said, and

to do so, members of authorization and appropriations committees will have

to think of agency programs in terms of the performance results information

that agencies put in their reports.

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